A state lawmakers in Kansas has apologized for remarks he made during a public meeting in which he implied that African-Americans were more prone to drug abuse than people of other races because of their "character makeup — their genetics and that."
State Rep. Steve Alford, a Republican representing Ulysses, Kansas, made the remarks in an open meeting at a hospital in Garden City, Kansas when he was asked about his stance on legal marijuana. A video taken by The Garden City Telegram shows Alford's response
"My wife is a magistrate judge. She says anyway you say it, marijuana is a gateway drug into higher drugs. Which you really need to do is go back...in the '30s, and when they outlawed all kinds of drugs across the United States. What was the reason why they did that? One of the reasons why, and I hate to say this, its the African-Americans. They were basically users and they basically responded the worst to those drugs, just because of their character makeup — their genetics and that."
Alford apologized for his comments on Monday, saying "I was wrong, I regret my comments and I sincerely apologize to anyone whom I have hurt."
Alford's remarks drew criticism from leaders in the state's black community and other lawmakers. According to CBS News, Darrell Pope, the president of the NAACP chapter in Hutchinson, called Alford an "idiot."
"He is an idiot and that shows how oblivious Kansans are to selecting representatives to put someone like that in there to represent them," Pope said.
“It is hard to believe that in 2018, anyone would support the discredited and racist policies of the Jim Crow era,” said former Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer, according to the Topeka Capital-Journal. “No matter one’s feelings on medical marijuana and marijuana legalization, we can all agree that views like those of Kansas Rep. Alford have no place in our Statehouse, in our state or in our country.”
Kansas is one of just 20 states that does not allow marijuana to be sold in the state for any reason.
Alex Hider is a writer for the E.W. Scripps National Desk. Follow him on Twitter @alexhider.